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Troubling Demographics

July 1, 2015

Albany is an old town. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s kind of awesome. Old towns have character. Old towns have souls. Newer places may be shiny and attractive, but their appeal rarely goes beyond the superficial.

We’ve got history here. And one of these days, more people will realize that it’s our history that makes us special, and not the possibility of a convention center, an aquarium, or a monorail.

Which isn’t to say one has to live in the past. Change is the natural state of affairs in the universe, and it’s thrilling to see some positive changes in the Capital Region. Especially in a place that has historically seemed to resist change, and where change has come slowly.

But the change that’s bringing some great new stuff to the area may ultimately come at a cost.

Dr. B and his family just left yesterday. And the trip took us to some of the greatest places for some of our regional culinary delights. That would be:

Ralph’s Tavern for mozz and melba
Ted’s for fish fry
Famous Lunch for mini hot dogs and egg with cheese on a hard roll

These places all had one thing in common. We were the youngest people there by a significant margin. And that has given me cause for concern.

The region is growing, but some of our classic institutions are stagnating. They aren’t able to capture their share of the younger blood that’s coming into the market. Or maybe they haven’t reached out to outlanders who have come out to the Capital Region with their families for technology jobs.

It would be easy to criticize this blog for being ideologically inconsistent on the matter.

For years, I’ve been pushing for positive change for the culinary scene in the Capital Region. And we’ve certainly been getting some. Now I can no longer complain about the absence of a world class cheese shop, that there’s no place to get a good cappuccino, or about the lack of flights at local wine bars. Looking back to some earlier posts, a lot of my grievances have been addressed.

Now that some things are better, I’m asking people to reverse course and make a special effort to hold on to the vestiges of the past.

This is one of the reasons why I’m focusing so much energy on Tavern Time. That’s the Yelp outing every third Thursday of the month, where I bring a gang of younger people to a classic spot. We all sit and absorb the culture, and lean back with plenty of fried foods and beers. The goal is to create some new positive experiences in these old-timey places that draw a diminishing number of actual old timers.

What a shame it would be if our new developments helped to wash away the things that makes the area truly great. The best way to protect against that happening is to visit your local tavern. Don’t be a stranger. Bring some younger friends. And perhaps even more importantly, recognize how great they are at doing what they do best.

If you need any help in that regard, I’m happy to lend a hand.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2015 9:30 am

    Losing fight. I believe that my generation (born in 80) will be the last that cares. I will actively encourage my children to make their homes in another state (or country) and I will be flying the coop as soon as I retire. There may be a future for others here, but not for me. And i don’t think encouraging newcomers to go to the old timey places will solve anything… It will just make the rest of us enjoying the final years at those places miserable,

    • July 1, 2015 9:54 am

      Also, if I am ever at one of my local haunts and a “yelp group” shows up, I am going to throw up. Because then I will know it is truly the end of days.

      • -R. permalink
        July 1, 2015 10:28 am

        Um, somebody didn’t take their happy pills today. And to think, I’ve got 11 years on you and I’m not nearly as much of a crotchety old git (though I have my moments). Your unbridled cynicism of late is becoming tiring…

      • Jack C. permalink
        July 1, 2015 12:19 pm

        God forbid good restaurants and taverns remain in business after you’ve left town. If you want to enjoy the end of your days here alone, buy a cabin in the woods outside of town and Thoreau it up. Otherwise, stop being such a jerk about enthusiastic people who like good food and drink.

      • July 1, 2015 12:36 pm

        Got it. Point made. Now maybe we can lighten up on Mr. Dave? Personally, I like him grumpy. Plus he’s now given us a way to identify him in public. I’m just bummed that he’s given up hope for bringing a new generation into the fold.

  2. Aaronm permalink
    July 1, 2015 1:09 pm

    I was just at the car mechanic, reading a local paper with “Gazette” in the title while waiting for my car to be inspected, and caught a little news blurb reporting on new Census figures showing that only 10% or so of our country’s counties have a population that is getting younger, and two of those counties are Albany and Schenectady (though, really, the data showed that they just weren’t getting older).

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